Moral Desert

Shelly Kagan

in The Geometry of Desert

Published in print September 2012 | ISBN: 9780199895595
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780199980093 | DOI:
Moral Desert

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This chapter focuses on the concept of moral desert and addresses some relevant questions about the nature of desert. It first considers the well-known thought that there are some people who are morally more deserving than others. It notes that a sufficient moral theory should include an account of moral desert. It identifies the metaphysical presuppositions of desert and addresses some familiar questions, such as the basis of moral desert. The next section examines the possibility that desert assumes the existence of some kind of free will and the skepticism surrounding the reality of desert. This chapter also discusses the thought that it is a good thing—other things being equal—if people get what they deserve. Some unfamiliar questions are considered in the final section of the chapter.

Keywords: moral desert; nature of desert; morally deserving; moral theory; metaphysical presuppositions; basis; free will; skepticism; unfamiliar questions

Chapter.  8192 words. 

Subjects: Moral Philosophy

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